Bonham auction at Retromobile

bonham+logo+frameBonhams Rétromobile 2015, February 5, 2015, Paris

Lot 325

Facel Vega Facel II coupé 1962

€275,000 – 375,000 £210,000 – 280,000

Chassis no. HK2B113

‘The HK500 was the most interesting car we ever made but the Facel II was the best. It was totally elegant.’ – Jean Daninos. In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel Véga produced approximately 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. Hand built, they were necessarily very expensive – the V8-engined Facel was priced in Rolls-Royce territory – and bought by the rich and famous seeking something exclusive and distinctive. The roll call of owners includes royalty, politicians, diplomats and entertainers. Confirming that there was high-performance substance behind Facel’s unquestionable style, they were also owned by great motor racing figures such as Sir Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant and Rob Walker.

Founded by Jean Daninos in 1939, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loir (FACEL) specialised in manufacturing aircraft components and metal furniture. After the war the company supplied car bodies to Panhard, Simca and Ford France before branching out into automobile manufacture in its own right with the launch of the Vega at the 1954 Paris Salon. Government legislation had effectively killed off France’s few surviving luxury car manufacturers after WW2 but that did not deter Daninos in his bold attempt to revive what had once been a great French motoring tradition. A luxurious Grande Routière, the Vega took its name from the brightest star in the Lyra constellation and featured supremely elegant coupé bodywork welded to a tubular-steel chassis. There being no suitable French-built power unit, Daninos turned to the USA for the Vega’s Chrysler’s V8 engine, while there was a choice of push-button automatic or manual transmission. Launched in 1961 and advertised as ‘Le Coupé 4-places le plus rapide du Monde’ (‘The fastest 4-seat Coupé in the World’) the Facel II in manual-transmission form could out-accelerate two-seater rivals such as the Aston Martin DB4, Ferrari 250GT and Mercedes-Benz 3000SL. Sadly, it was destined to be the last of the V8-engined models, production ceasing in 1964 after an unsuccessful venture into engine manufacture effectively bankrupted the company. Production of the preceding HK500 amounted to only 500-or-so units between 1958 and 1961 and that of the Facel II to a mere 182. Today these rare Franco-American classics are highly sought after.

Partially restored around ten years ago, when it was re-sprayed, this rare Facel II is described as very clean and in generally good condition, with nicely patinated leather interior. The car is offered with UK V5 registration document.

BC writes: HK2B113 came to UK in 1999 from USA, privately imported. It was first supplied to Edgar Bronfman, head of Seagrams by Hoffmans of New York. It had been to Finland and then back to Vermont before being imported to the UK. For some reason I cannot see or import pics but it is in reasonable condition, in what is known as ‘bleu iridisee’, fairly pale blue

Lot 348

Facel Vega Excellence « 1e série » berline 1958

€200,000 – 300,000 £150,000 – 220,000

Ava Gardner; one of ten produced

1958 Facel Vega Excellence ‘1st Series’ Saloon Chassis no.

EX2B Engine no. TY61237

In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel Véga produced approximately 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. At the very pinnacle of these was the Excellence, a glamorous, high-performance and extremely expensive luxury saloon that cost almost 4,000,000 francs, or roughly as much as four Citroën DS saloons.

assisted steering, power brakes, air conditioning and electric windows. trimmed interior was always lavishly appointed and featured a vanity kit housed in a compartment at the back of the centre armrest.

With a maximum of 360 horsepower on tap, the ‘1st Series’ Excellence was arguably the fastest of the three series produced, notwithstanding the equal or higher outputs claimed for its successors. Production of the Excellence ceased in June 1964 after only 156 of these magnificent automobiles had been made, by far the greater majority belonging to the ‘2nd Series’.

This ultra-rare Facel Véga Excellence ‘1st Series’ is made all the more desirable by virtue of its association with film star Ava Gardner, it first owner, who took delivery directly from the factory. The last of the ten built, it was delivered in September 1958 when Ava would have been about to start work on the movie, ‘On the Beach’, co-starring with Gregory Peck. She had been signed by MGM Studios in 1941 and would appear in numerous high-profile movies from the 1950s to the 1970s, including ‘Mogambo’ (1953) for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Ava Gardner’s ownership is confirmed by the chassis records (copy on file) and there is also a photograph of her with this car in the history file.

Restored some 10-15 years ago, the Excellence is described as in generally good condition, running and driving well, and with a lovely, patinated, red leather interior. The car is offered with Netherlands registration papers.


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